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GolfWRX Morning 9: What the 2019 Rules update got wrong | The joy of December golf

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

December 24, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. A Merry Christmas Eve to you all!
1. On December golf
The immortal John Updike with an equally immortal 1989 piece for Golf Digest.
“An hour north of Boston, the golf shops hold their end-of-season sales in early October, and by the end of the month, the club pros have flown south to Florida, to begin all over again. The courses remain open, however, for a month or so-at first, with flags in fresh-cut cups, and then without flags but with unlined holes cut in the middle of the green, and finally with no holes in the green but perhaps temporary greens set up some yards in front, on patches of fairway where putting is as chancy as bowling across cobblestones. Nevertheless, a devoted few play on, through Indian summer and Thanksgiving, into December, until the first snowfall puts a decisive end to the golfing year.”
  • “Just as a day may come at sunset into its most glorious hour, or a life toward the gray-bearded end enter a halcyon happiness, December golf, as long as it lasts, can seem the sweetest golf of the year. The unkind winds and muddy plugged lies of April and May, the deepening rough of June, the hot, eager crowds of July and August, the obfuscating goose feathers and fallen leaves of the autumn are all gone, gone, and golf feels, on the frost-stiffened fairways, reduced to its austere and innocent essence.”
  • “December always holds some mild-enough days. Sunshine glints like a thin shell of ice on the upper sides of the bare, gray twigs, the sky is striped like blue bacon, a tardy line of Canada geese wobbles its way south, and the air is delighted to be providing oxygen to some plucky sportsmen. The foursome, thinned perhaps to a mere threesome or twosome, meets by the boarded-up clubhouse exhilarated to have an entire golf course to itself-fairway upon fairway visible through the naked trees, zigzagging back and forth in the view from the first tee. There are no tee markers, no starting times, no scorecards, no gasoline carts-just golf-mad men and women, wearing wool hats and two sweaters each, moving on their feet…

Full piece. 

2. Whiff!
Geoff Shackelford took issue with an element of the 2019 updates to the Rules of Golf…more specifically, the failure to make an update to an irksome issue.
  • …”the governing bodies did not budge on one of the most requested rule changes: relief from divots.”
  • “Chalk this up to a win for the all-important “play it as it lies” principle, the most vital tenet of golf’s rules. But do not expect this to be the last time divot-relief is scrutinized. There is good reason to believe the adoption of several changes will force the U.S. Golf Association and R&A to cave on the divot matter.”
  • “More than any other annoyance in the sport, seeing a ball finish in divots of differing recovery stages can be an aggravating though generally rare occurrence given the number of shots struck.”
  • “At courses with big maintenance budgets and carts armed with sand bottles, the issue gets trickier when an old divot blatantly becomes ground under repair, particularly when players can spot seeds in the mix. The divot issue is generally more acute for American golfers who play an aerial game, making the recovery shot more painful than on a links, where fewer forced carries mean golfers more easily can advance the ball to the hole via the ground.”
  • “According to the rules experts who put an incredible amount of time into this simplification effort and who deserve our gratitude for listening as never before, the divot issue was cited heavily during the feedback period. Even as the golfing public successfully lobbied for a monumental change in the stroke and distance rules, the rules experts – gulp – dug deep when it came to considering divots as ground under repair.”
3. Another opinion?
Martin Kaufmann writes…
“…in their sweeping overhaul of the Rules of Golf, the game’s governing bodies showed themselves to be open, transparent and flexible, and also attuned and sympathetic to the plight of mid-and high-handicappers.”
  • “That was reflected in numerous rules changes, including: a local rule dealing with balls that are lost or OB; establishing the ability to set a “maximum score”; sanctioning the use of distance-measuring devices; reducing or eliminating some penalties; encouraging “ready golf”; providing a means for poor players to extricate themselves from bunkers; and allowing players to move loose impediments in bunkers. It’s also reflected in a condensed rule book – 24 rules, down from 34 – that contains less-tortured language, and also supporting videos and other materials that are easily consumed.”
  • “Without blowing up the rules, they’ve done a wonderful job of maintaining the integrity of golf and yet made things more consistent throughout the course and reduced penalties that frankly seem a little unfair in many people’s eyes,” said Bill Linneman, director of rules and competitions for the Wisconsin Golf Association.”
  • “The USGA and R&A didn’t just meet everyday golfers halfway; they embraced them in a big bear hug. The result, said Ryan Farb, the Northern California Golf Association’s director of rules and competitions, is “The everyday player is going to end up playing by the rules by default a lot more than they used to.”
4. Foster axed
Andy Johnson at the Fried Egg…
  • “Congressional Country Club has decided to cut ties with golf course architect Keith Foster. The club’s Board of Governors came to the decision this morning and will begin the process of finding a new architect. The move came following Wednesday’s news that Foster had plead guilty to illegally transporting between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of items made from endangered species, migratory birds and other wildlife. Foster potentially faces up to five years in prison. In an email to the membership, Club President Bev Lane remarked, “The permitting phase of the Blue Course restoration project will continue as planned. A list of golf course architects has been developed and initial discussions with them have already begun.”
  • “Keith Foster has also been let go at Olympia Fields Country Club following the news of his guilty plea. The club and Foster were in the early stages of masterplanning at the historic club. Olympia Fields released a statement to their membership “we have done our best to mitigate the Club’s damages resulting from his admitted offenses and are proceeding to formulate a plan to move forward with another architect.” Before selecting Foster, Olympia Fields was considering Andy Staples, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina.”
5. Speaking of Olympia Fields…
Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek…
  • “Olympia Fields Country Club will host a FedEx Cup Playoff event in 2020, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
  • Sources tell the Tribune that the event now called the BMW Championship will take place at the site of the 2003 U.S. Open in Olympia Fields, Ill., where Jim Furyk won with a then record-low 272 total.”
  • “The BMW has traditionally been held in the Chicago area every other year, but this means back-to-back years with the 2019 event set for Medinah Country Club”
6. Talking to the author “The Evolution of Golf Course Design”
“Our Peter Schmitt conducted an interview with Keith Cutten, author of “The Evolution of Golf Course Design,” which is a new book he is releasing to the public. This is an unbelievably well-researched and all-encompassing look at golf course architecture, how it has changed throughout history, and all of the variables in play that have shaped it over the course of time.”
Q: “Let’s start with the easy stuff. What’s your personal background? How did you get into all of this?”
A: “Well, my passion for golf architecture started back in high school. I took a drafting and design curriculum all through high school, which was hugely beneficial. I was getting into golf around 15-16 years old and I lost my grandfather, who was the primary golf influence in my life. When he died, he left me his golf clubs, and I missed him so much I just dove completely head first into golf.”
  • “When I finished high school, I sat down with my dad to try to hash out a game plan to get into the golf industry. My dad was an environmental scientist for 40 years with the Ministry of Environment in Ontario, so he helped me a great deal in understanding the policy system here in Canada. I started by getting my bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo in Planning and Environmental Design. In my last coop term, I went for broke and I reached out to Rod Whitman in Canada, who invited me to do a 5-month coop with him during the construction of Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club in British Columbia. The pay was paltry and I ran a shovel and a rake for most of the summer, but I fell in love with it instantly.”
  • “I later went back for my master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, which I finished in 2016. The culmination of that was my thesis, which has now become this book. Nowadays, I have my own company, Cutten Golf, Inc., which allows me to partner with people like Rod and Dave Axland, who has been Coore and Crenshaw’s chief project manager for 30 years. I couldn’t have walked into a better situation as a young, aspiring architect. To have the opportunity to work with these guys is incredible.”
  • “Having had the opportunity to peek at an advanced copy, I can say the book is completely fascinating. Talk a little bit about what compelled you to devote so much of yourself to this pursuit in the first place.”
  • “I’m the type of person that needs to answer my own questions to be satisfied. I’m not comfortable with just accepting things as fact without knowing the story behind them. I was sitting in one of my first master’s classes, which was basically a history of the landscape architecture profession. I’m learning how everything is influenced by society and wars and economy and I thought, “This has to be true for golf, but no one’s ever talked about it.”
  • “At the time, I was also batting around ideas for my thesis. I was thinking a lot about the renovations that had recently been done to Pinehurst No. 2 and I was particularly curious about how Donald Ross’s original design was so much more environmentally sound than what it had been allowed to become over the course of time.”
  • “One of the key quotes that I got from Bill [Coore] about that project was that they were not trying to be “environmental crusaders” so much as they were just trying to put the course back to the way Donald Ross had originally intended it. So the question I kept asking in my head was, “How did this happen?” I sort of went on a fact finding mission to uncover how golf course architecture changed and it kept snowballing. I just kept following leads in different directions that began to connect all the dots for me. I went a little deeper down the rabbit hole every day, and ended up with a 600+ page thesis to turn in.”
7. Jon Rahm-Seve Ballesteros
How about this for a “grow the game” initiative?
  • Brian Keogh of Irish Golf Desk writes, “Combining the eternal appeal of Seve Ballesteros with the star power of Ryder Cup hero Jon Rahm has drawn more than 600 children to participate in the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ programme in Spain.”
  • “While the youngsters know all about Seve through watching his videos and hearing the stories of his feats, they were keen to get to know Rahm and played golf with their hero at Meaztegi Golf, a Seve-designed public golf course in Ortuella, a mining town near Bilbao.”
  • “After competing in five qualifiers during the summer, 80 boys and girls under 16 made it to the final event of the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ series, which is a joint initiative by Jon Rahm and the Seve Ballesteros Foundation aimed at introducing younger generations to the game of golf and its values.”
8. Economic impact of The Open
Jim Miller at the Courier…”A record 172,000 fans flocked to the coastal Angus town for the prestigious golf tournament in July and delivered an economic impact of £69 million, according to the study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre.”
  • “Tiger Woods on 18th green, reacting after missing a birdie putt. Friday, 20th July, 2018. Scotland also benefited from £51 million in destination marketing activity thanks to The Open being broadcast on television to more than 600 million households in 193 countries worldwide.”
  • “The study – which was commissioned by golf’s governing body The R&A, VisitScotland and Angus Council – also concluded that the Angus area alone received a £21 million injection of new money from The Open.”
  • “Almost half of the spectators who attended The Open (49.8%) travelled from outwith Scotland, while the overwhelming majority of Scottish fans (84.8%) came from outside Angus. The research found 62% of non-Angus residents indicated they would return to the region for a break within 12 months.”
9. For your listening pleasure
In this episode of The Gear Dive, Host Johnny Wunder chats with fellow Seattle native Jay Turner on growing up with Freddy Couples, the things the big companies aren’t paying attention to, Johnny Wunder’s first set of clubs, creating a fitting system that is hard to argue with and sticking to his guns for over 30 years.

Listen here.

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Phil phires a 60 | Lowry leads in Abu Dhabi | Bernhard the bricklayer’s son

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 18, 2019

Good Friday morning, golf fans.
1.  Desert Classic
A “rusty” Mickelson leads with nothing less than a 12-under 60…
Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner…”If this is his idea of rusty, it could be another special year for Phil Mickelson…Before heading out to begin his 28th year on the PGA Tour, Lefty alerted his 250,000-plus Twitter followers that he was “excited” and “fresh” and “ready to get started,” but also, um, “rusty,” which is a golfer’s subtle way of suggesting that expectations should be lowered. Mickelson even told his playing partner, Aaron Wise, the reigning Rookie of the Year, as much before the round: “I’m rusty, so don’t expect much.”
  • “But Mickelson has been doing the improbable for nearly three decades now, and so maybe it shouldn’t have been such a complete surprise that in his first round of 2019, at 48 years of age, with no expectations, he carded his lowest score in relation to par in his long and decorated Tour career – a 12-under 60, to take the lead Thursday at the Desert Classic.”
  • “It was kind of a lucky day in the sense that I did not feel sharp heading in,” Mickelson said afterward. “Sometimes it’s just one of those days when it clicks.”
2. Meanwhile, on the LPGA Tour…
AP Report…”Nearly three months after Lewis became a mother, and six months after she last played on tour, she opened with seven birdies on Thursday for a 5-under 66 that left her one shot behind Brooke Henderson and Eun-Hee Ji at the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions.”
  • ”Pleasantly surprised,” Lewis said. ”Had pretty low expectations going into the day. Just really made a lot of putts. I had some weird shots, which I knew was going to happen having not played in a while. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m going to take it.”
  • “Henderson overcame a slow start with a bogey on the second hole and a par save on No. 3 at the Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons. She birdied five of her last eight holes for a 65 to tie Ji, who had a bogey-free round.”
  • “The tournament – the first season-opener in Florida for the LPGA since 2015 – is only for LPGA winners each of the last two years.”
3. European Tour
A report from The National...”Shane Lowry has a three-shot advantage to take into Saturday’s final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.”
  • “A birdie at the 18th gave him a round of 67 to leave him on -17, three ahead of South African Richard Sterne.”
  • “An eagle on the final hole from Ian Poulter lifted the Englishman to -12 and gives him hope he can prevail on Saturday.”
  • “Pablo Larrazabal will start the final round on -11 ahead of a quartet of Maximilian Kiefer, Thomas Pieters, Soren Kjeldsen and Scott Jamieson.”
4. The bricklayer’s son
Bernhard Langer’s “My Shot” runs in Golf Digest this month.
A few morsels…
  • “My father built our house. When I was a boy, he would call on me to help him lay bricks. I would shovel the material for the mortar into a small mixing machine, then join him in laying the bricks, setting them carefully, one by one, using string to make sure everything was straight. I consider it a miracle to have come this far.”
  • “WE CADDIES were given four hand-me-down clubs to share. There was a 2-wood, 3-iron and 7-iron, all with bamboo shafts, and a putter with a shaft bent like an archer’s bow. By the time I was 12, I saved enough money to buy a new set of Kroydon irons. They weren’t top of the line, but they were shiny, new and all mine. I added a Blue Goose model putter that had a small indentation in the head. It was a magical putter, and I quickly became the best putter at the course, Golfclub Augsburg, and possibly all of Germany. One day the putter went missing. I frantically went through the members’ bags, and sure enough, found my Blue Goose with the indentation. But I was in a terrible situation. I couldn’t confront the member-he surely would deny everything, and I would be fired. So I kept it to myself. I never did get the Blue Goose back. I’ve spent the past 50 years looking for a putter that suits me as well.”
5. Latin American Am
AP Report…“Alvaro Ortiz of Mexico had an ideal start Thursday in hopes of turning his fortunes in the Latin American Amateur Championship, opening with a 6-under 66 to build a three-shot lead after the opening round.”
  • “Ortiz has been runner-up in the Latin American Amateur the last two years. He finished five shots behind Joaquin Niemann of Chile last year, and he lost in a three-man playoff to Toto Gana the previous year.”
  • “The winner earns a spot in the Masters in April, and is exempt into the final stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open and British Open.”
6. Pins in at Augusta National? Maybe…
Golf Channel’s Nick Menta…”Will players really be allowed to putt with the pins in during at the Masters?”
  • “Asked that question Thursday at the Latin America Amateur Championship, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t say no.”
  • “Under the new Rules of Golf, which went into effect on Jan. 1, players are now allowed to leave the flagstick in while on the greens, as Bryson DeChambeau so eagerly demonstrated.”
  • “Addressing the possibility of Augusta National going against the Rules of Golf during Masters week, Ridley first thanked the USGA’s Mike Davis and R&A’s Martin Slumbers for their work, then preached a message of “consistency” at the game’s highest levels.”
  • “We will, as we always do, collaborate with the governing bodies. We will talk about those local rules and conditions that will be implemented,” Ridley said.”
  • “We think it’s important that there be some consistency in top championship golf, and so you should expect that the Masters Tournament, from a rules perspective, will look very much, if not the same, as what you’re seeing in the major championships and the professional tours.”
7. The weirdest lies in golf history
Great stuff here from Coleman Bentley rounding up some of the most absurd lies (and resultant shots) in golf history (although it’s hard to believe there’s any way his list could be comprehensive, but hey, headlines, and you have to admire the effort)
  • “Golf is a game of minutely controlled chaos. Atoms crashing into atoms. Weight swooping into inertia. A ballet of bounces, spins, kicks, and ricochets that goes wrong just as often as it goes right. The beauty of a such an unpredictable game-one of inches, not yards-however, is that when it goes right it’s spectacular and when it goes wrong, well, it’s equally spectacular. Beg to differ? Well, keep on begging, because as the weirdest, wildest lies in golf’s weird, wild history prove, chaos is a beautiful thing indeed.”
  • “Shane Lowry – 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship…Before Shane Lowry could tie the course record at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Championship, he first had to conquer Trash Heap Corner. P.S. If no one’s taking that couch, we might know a guy who’s interested.”
  • “Phil Mickelson – 2014 Barclays Championship…The Leave: Just to the left of Big Jeff’s Hotdog Haus. One day Phil Mickelson will save par from the surface of the moon. We’re sure of it. Until then, his walkabout at the 2014 Barclays Championship will have to suffice.”
8. Kang & McNealy
A couple of Las Vegas-based golf pros are a couple!
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell...”Danielle Kang watched Maverick McNealy with special interest when he was mic’d up on Golf Channel’s telecast of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas earlier this week.”
  • “They are dating.”
  • “Kang wasn’t sure whether to reveal McNealy is her boyfriend, but she couldn’t help herself.”
  • “He’s a dork,” she cracked when asked to review his running dialogue on Golf Channel. “But he’s my dork.”
  • “She was applying the Kang needle. Both she and McNealy live in Las Vegas. She said they met at a golf course there, The Summit Club.”
  • “He’s a sweetheart,” Kang said. “I have so much respect for him and vice versa.”
  • Aww!
9. Back in black!
Titleist 718 AP2 Black and AP3 Black released in limited quantities. Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock.
  • Titleist has unveiled new 718 AP2 Black and 718 AP3 Black irons in limited black finish that will be available to purchase from March 1.
  • Previously only available in a traditional chrome finish, the new Titleist 718 AP2 Black and Titleist 718 AP3 Black irons are finished with a sleek, high polish black PVD coating. The irons feature True Temper AMT Onyx shafts stock. The shafts’ powder coat matte black finish aims to minimize glare (in addition to looking cool). An all-black Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 grip is standard as well.
  • Speaking on the move to release the irons in black, Josh Talge, Vice President, Golf Club Marketing said
  • “One request we heard from both tour players and amateurs, particularly those who have gravitated toward our Jet Black Vokey SM7 wedges, was if they could have these same irons in a darker finish. Our team spent a lot of time making sure the aesthetics were done just right. It’s a look that you just have to see.”
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Brooks Koepka with Mizuno JPX 919 irons, TaylorMade M5 driver in the bag at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

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Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX919

Brooks Koepka is in action this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship equipped with a new driver and set of irons.

Golf.com’s Jonathan Wall broke the news, via Twitter, that Kopeka has TaylorMade’s new M5 Driver in his bag this week, as well as Mizuno’s JPX 919 Tour Irons.

The three-time major champ used TaylorMade’s M3 460 Driver and Mizuno’s JPX 900 Tour irons throughout 2018, and it appears as if Koepka is happy to make the transition to both manufacturers latest additions of those series of clubs right from the get-go in 2019.

Brooks-Koepka-Mizuno-JPX-919

Koepka is currently T13 after two rounds of play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and sits five shots off the lead.

 

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European Tour members have heated exchange over cheating incident…from 2013

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Social media appears to have become the new playground for golfers to air their issues with each other, and this week it was the turn of two European Tour members.

The two men involved were Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and England’s Simon Dyson, and the subject of the feud revolves around a new change in the rulebook of golf. As of 2019, players are allowed to repair spike marks on the greens, an act which Dyson was found guilty of doing when it was prohibited back in 2013, and subsequently found himself slapped with a fine and a suspension.

Fernandez Castano kicked off the fun and games following his opening round at this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Spaniard said how the new rule “will take some time to get used to” before adding the punchline  “Unless you are Simon Dyson and you have been doing it for years.”

The bad blood between Fernandez-Castano and Dyson appears to be fully down to Dyson’s misdemeanour in 2013, as one year later on Twitter when the Spaniard was asked for his opinion on Dyson; he bluntly replied: “Used to like him, not anymore”.

Asked why he hadn’t tagged Dyson in his tweet yesterday, the Spaniard claimed that the Englishman had blocked him, before Dyson took to the stage, with a different rationale. In a since-deleted tweet, Dyson stated that Fernandez-Castano didn’t have the cojones (or something similar) and stated that the Spaniard is a “sad little man”.

After getting that off his chest, Dyson approached the incident differently, saying that he, unlike Fernandez-Caetano supposedly, had moved on from the affair which occurred six years ago.

Nothing quite like a good old confrontation on social media with a peer to begin your professional year, eh?

 

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